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2009-11-18 - Le Monde
An integrator of Smart technologies for the protection of everyone's identit. Interview with Didier Trutt

Didier Trutt, Chairman and CEO of Imprimerie Nationale (the French national printing office, which also has private clients), provides details of the strong links between his company and intelligent technologies.

In what manner is Imprimerie Nationale involved with Smart technologies ?

The heart of our business is the production of personalized and secure official documents on behalf of the State: identity documents, administrative and tax documents, electronic data transfers. One of our essential areas of know-how is the integration of all kinds of security measures. To do this, we use the best Smart technologies available, supplied to us by the leading companies in this sector. It is a matter of personal satisfaction to me that the majority of these are French companies, which are among the leading players in the industry. In the light of its very long history, Imprimerie Nationale could be thought of as being somewhat removed from this high-tech world. Nothing could be further from the truth! While very proud of its history, our company participates on a daily basis in the development of cutting edge intelligent technologies.

What technologies are most used for the documents that you are responsible for producing?

Microchips are, naturally, a key element, but not the only one. In order to protect everyone's identity, we have recourse to many other technologies and techniques, both recent and older. Take biometric passports, for example: in addition to their microchip and biometric data, they incorporate special paper and inks, several layers of drawings, watermarks and holograms, sparkle effects (shiny, pearly or iridescent), color variations, ultra detailed graphics, backgrounds, micro letters… In short, they incorporate a panoply of technologies. Our knowhow in the fields of integrating, superimposing and interweaving all these elements represents the best weapon against forgery, falsification and identity theft.

Do any of Imprimerie Nationale's missions make particularly intensive use of Smart technologies?

The products produced by Imprimerie Nationale which require the highest degree of security are those that make the most use of Smart technologies. Since 2006, we have produced ten million electronic passports, one million of which were biometric. Intelligent technologies are also very much present in the identity cards of public sector employees and municipal police officers. In all, some fifteen million secure identity documents leave our factory in Douai each year. It is one of the most secure industrial sites in France, where confidentiality is a golden rule. Another less well-known application is that of tachograph cards, which act as a safety measure for lorry and bus drivers. These can be considered as a kind of black box for these vehicles. They enable very accurate recording of time spent driving, distance travelled, speed, any technical problems that may have arisen, etc..

In addition to the missions entrusted to it by the French government, the company also operates in sectors open to competition. What are its strong points in this sphere?

Examples of our activities in this area are the manufacture of identity documents for other countries, private documents (bank checks, securities and services, secure cards for businesses, etc.). Our principal competitive advantage is, naturally, our unrivalled know-how in the field of the protection and securing of documents. Another of our major strong points is in fact linked to Smart technologies, in that we are completely "agnostic" in relation to the solutions developed by private companies in the sector; this means that we never exclusively favor one technology rather than another. Our only concern is their effectiveness and suitability in relation to our client's requirements. At present, a particular technology might be considered the ultimate in security, but tomorrow it will be something else. Regardless of what new technologies arrive, we shall always be capable of incorporating them in our products.

In the light of the technological advances that will doubtless see the light of day in the years ahead, what will Imprimerie Nationale's position be?

Our know-how in the field of the protection of objects and people will evolve in tandem with growing security constraints, and also in tandem with the development of new Smart technologies. For us, they therefore represent a major accelerator for change. Whether with regard to our investments or our processes, we no longer have any need to demonstrate our capacity to adapt to ever more complex technological evolutions. I will therefore be endeavoring to strengthen our expertise as an integrator of solutions by always choosing the best technologies and those that best meet requirements at the time. Our mission is to protect what is most dear to people: their identity. We accordingly use the best technological means available to fulfill this mission.